"We began our visits at the secondary level and it was
very clear that we have such high academic expectations at all three of our secondary
schools. I was particularly impressed with the use of technology that we are
seeing used more and more as a critical instructional tool to engage students.
We purposefully sought evidence of the implementation of our new math series. I
was really proud of the great work being done at all three buildings in making
this new series work for all of our students. I cannot express to you how
special it is to have teachers such as Kirk Dodge who asks to have struggling
students placed into his classroom so that he can make sure that they can catch
up and keep up in critical skills in math. We are blessed with an abundance of
such caring educators here in Fife.
Our visit to SLMS was special in that we were able to see
the interactions and impact of our two new leaders at that building. I left
very impressed with the focus on design and student work that is so very
evident in the classrooms and on the walls.
We finished our series of walkthroughs with visits to our
three elementary schools yesterday and today. I was further inspired by the
great efforts being undertaken by our staff in implementing the new math
series. I cannot recall a time where I saw such engagement and enthusiasm in
math at our elementary level. I saw students very excited about their learning.
I overheard some really nice comments from students such as:
"I wish we could keep doing math today"
"I am not sure exactly who you guys are, but I
really like it when other people look at our work"
"Wow, you are really tall!" (This was said by a
new favorite student of mine who looked up at me from her chair as I looked
down at her work).
Finally, what I saw were dedicated teachers working
really hard at their craft. In some cases they were working with a few more
students than we would like and certainly in a few cases in some really
challenging circumstances in very diverse settings. But in every case I saw
people who really enjoy what they do and that take great pride in sharing the
great work that they are doing. The Walls That Teach were great as well,
especially those at the elementary schools that are reflecting the new math
work being done by students.
Considering that we turned around a math adoption in less
than one year and are implementing it in such a quality way because our
students needed it is, quite frankly, very humbling to me as an educator. This
would not happen in most places. I thank you all for that.
You know, with everything going on in education these
days and everyone having an opinion about what we should teach, how we should
teach, who we should teach and how we should determine if what we are doing is
working, I simply wish I could have them all at my elbow during a walkthrough
as we witness what you guys are doing with kids. I made the comment at the end
of the last day that there was not one classroom that we visited that I would
not be proud to have my own son learning in. That is a tall statement for sure.
Thank you all for the great work that you do and for the
chance once again to see a little slice of it up close and personal."